Whatever happened to the workers? Is Labour now a middle class party?

working classThe key to “professional” success in the land of comment is to never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative. If hard numbers and social realities are inconvenient, one can safely shove them aside in the assured knowledge they won’t come back to haunt the writer. Especially if one is a star columnist in a newspaper with broadly the same politics. On this occasion, it’s Janan Ganesh writing in the Financial Times about Jeremy Corbyn, class, and UKIP. And yes, it’s rubbish. Here, Janan had given his own spin to the political meme doing the rounds – that the Labour Party has got taken over by the middle class.

As it happens, there are numbers – not consulted in Janan’s piece – that bear out this analysis, but only to a degree. Published by The Graun last week, the party has attracted disproportionate numbers of home-owning inner city yuppie/hipster-types. They account for something like four per cent of the general population, while they’re a mahoosive 11.2% of our party’s membership. 10% of members are in “prestige positions“, as against nine per cent of the population. Meanwhile, rural workers and the less well-off are underrepresented. Continue reading

In Tower Hamlets, now the accuser is accused

Just 2½ years ago, Lutfur Rahman was selected as Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets with 433 votes compared with 251 for local London assembly member, John Biggs, and 157 for council leader, Helal Abbas. Shortly afterwards, Rahman was accused by Abbas of fraudulently recruiting members, including at fake addresses, paying their subscriptions, and winning by this alleged deception. Abbas was rewarded by becoming the Labour candidate before losing again to Rahman in the ‘real’ election.

Now Abbas and Biggs are competing again in what is seen as a much closer race to be Labour’s candidate with councillors Rachael Saunders and Sirajul Islam, and the winner will go on to challenge Rahman in the next ‘real’ election.  Rahman has since been cleared by Labour of membership irregularities and (he and his group of councillors) by the Metropolitan Police on 151 counts of electoral fraud brought by opposition councillors. However, now it is Rahman’s accuser who is himself being linked to new charges of membership irregularities and possible electoral fraud. Continue reading

Blairite continuity candidate to run party? Shome mishtake shurely, Ed!

It’s time to take stock of the Party, Ed. On Tuesday, you and the other members of the National Executive Committee will decide who will be the next General Secretary. You will also have a report on the Refounding Labour consultation. That report appears to have been written before the submissions were read or analysed. Furthermore, it is not impossible that someone will raise the fiasco of a National Policy Forum held in Wrexham four weeks ago. On that occasion A better future for Britain was sent to representatives just 36 hours, without NPF elected representatives having sight of submissions either. As one senior parliamentarian put it very bluntly to me last week: “It’s rubbish.” That was in reference to the content, not its late delivery. Continue reading

Why are people joining the Labour Party?

During the Blair and Brown eras, the number of people with a Labour Party card in their pockets plummeted to levels not seen since the 1930s. Whether it be Iraq, the continued lack of trade union rights, Ken Livingstone’s expulsion from the party in 2000, privatisation, the assault on civil liberties, the failure to tackle the disastrous legacy of Thatcherism, or the general perceived kowtowing to big business and the wealthy – thousands of socialists no longer felt they could stomach being on Labour’s membership rolls. Continue reading